Seh Calaz: From church choir to Zimdancehall

Seh Calaz

Seh Calaz

Tawanda Matanhire : Arts Reporter

The rise of Zimdancehall in recent years was catalysed by the increase of backyard studios, which artistes from humble backgrounds took advantage of to make music. Artistes such as Wallace “Winky D” Chirumiko and King Labash gained popularity with Shona hits like “Chaputika” and “Kukonzeresa”, proving that local musicians could also produce and give a local flavour to a genre that was regarded as foreign.Many other artistes have come on board and the Zimdancehall wave is now unstoppable.

Among many artistes that are pushing the wave is chanter Seh Calaz.

Born Tawanda Mumanyi on August 2, 1990 in Mbare, he attended St Peter’s and Chirodzo Primary schools and did his secondary education at St Charles Mutendi High, Malborough High and Trust Academy.

Various family challenges in his upbringing saw him changing schools regularly.

He believes he was born a musician because he had passion for the art from a tender age.

“I did not choose music, music chose me,” he says.

Between 2008 and 2011 Mumanyi was a choir member at Christ Embassy Church. Despite venturing into secular music, he says he is still an ardent follower of Pastor Chris, leader of the church.

As the Zimdancehall music was getting stronger he decided to try his voice in the art.

In 2011 Mumanyi made his first steps in Zimdancehall as Seh Calaz.

He recorded his first song “Mbare” in that period.

He was unknown but his entry attracted attention in the industry.

From that first release, Seh Calaz went on to churn out many more songs and grew into one Zimdancehall’s sought-after artistes.

His upbringing was not rosy because he lost his mother when he was young.

She was raising him as a single mother and the loss was a huge blow to Seh Calaz.

He says she was his source of inspiration.

“My mother was and remains my greatest inspiration. I cannot say what happened between her and my father because I was young. My father is alive and is also a good source of encouragement in my career, but my mother was my hero.”

He has released a number of hit songs filled with emotional messages like “Kwatinobva” and “Amai” which applaud the role her mother played in his life.

The phenomenal rise of the dancehall genre spurred Seh Calaz to new heights as he joined a music generation of young ghetto youths that were ready to conquer other genres.

In no time dancehall shows became a common feature on Zimbabwe’s entertainment diary.

Seh Calaz immediately cemented his position in the industry, albeit in a controversial way because of the rivalry that was hot in their genre.

The controversial tag has stuck with him to date and he is regarded as one of the most controversial dancehall artiste in the country.

This tag though does not perturb him as it pushes him to work even harder in the face of competition that surrounds him.

Seh Calaz remains focused in his work and this attribute has opened doors and avenues for him locally, regionally and internationally.

He has performed at high profile local gigs and has toured South Africa many times.

As he made it up the ladder, his chants went viral and he became known as “mubhanditi.”

The “Mabhanditi” stable president has toured the UK twice and he is also scheduled to perform there again this year.

He has been to Australia and has more international tours slated for this year in other countries.

In recent times we have seen a lot of high profile international dancehall acts coming to perform in Zimbabwe as a sign of endorsement of the ever growing genre.

Seh Calaz made headlines by becoming one of the earliest local Zimdancehall artistes to collaborate with an internationally recognised dancehall artiste when he did a track with Jamaica’s Turbulence.

This was a key turning point in his career.

Thereafter, his hit song “Mumota Murikubvira” shook the airwaves and up to now remains one of the most loved tracks at dancehall shows.

This has seen him maturing in the music industry and growing in stature as more hit songs came from his “Mabhanditi” stable.

A lot of people confuse his stable name to mean a past life ridden with crime and time spent in jail but it is a name he uses to identify with the suffering of the poor masses.

“The ghetto struggles are real and when I sing I look at the relevant issues, the unspoken realities of the ghetto.”

Last year he released a 12-track album titled “Bandit Rebirth.”

The album was a major departure from his usual confrontational and hard-hitting style.

On this lyrically rich album, Seh Calaz sought to address a lot of societal problems like unemployment, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and abortion among others.

The album was well received and carries songs that still dominate the airwaves.

This was his first album and he promises another one in 2016.

At the end of last year he also released a singles collection which was well received by the fans.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed and have not been in vain for he has received several local awards which include Best Vocalist at the Zimdancehall Awards two years in a row in 2013 and 2014.

He won the Best Club hit and also took the Best Video award for his video of the song “Ndinochema”.

This is a testament of the quality of work that he produces.

Seh Calaz has looked beyond personal fame in his journey and has of late spent time visiting inmates and using his resources to bring a smile to their faces.

He says this is just the beginning of more and exciting things he has lined up for 2016.

The year is still in its infancy but he is already in the centre of Zimdancehall activities as some artistes take turns to attack him in their songs.

It seems they see Seh Calaz as a threat in the congested industry that has endless battles for fame as songs are released everyday while producers constantly compete in unleashing new riddims.

This promises to be an eventful year for Seh Calaz and he is ready to deliver and usher his fans to a new dimension of Zimdancehall.

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  • Emru Kunanti

    Wanga uripo here